Supreme Court Order-Significance For the Struggle Of Seniors Citizens Of India

Supreme Court Order-Significance For the Struggle Of Seniors Citizens Of India

by HelpAge India September 11, 2020 0 comments Uncategorized
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The Application – Bring to the Notice of the Court – The post-COVID Situation of Senior Citizens

The Supreme Courtissued an important order on the issues of Senior Citizens in response to the application which sought to discuss further, with regard to older people who need more care and protection in this pandemic of Covid19.

1. It was submitted to the Supreme Court that in the COVID-19 situation that “….older people, who are living alone, are worst sufferers and they are not able to get medicines, masks, sanitizers and other essential goods.

2. It was added that – “…The caregivers of these people are also not equipped with personal protection equipment and are also untrained. The appeal has also been made for issuing appropriate direction for timely payment of old age pension to all elder persons who are in receipt of the pension…”

3. The petitioner further added that “….the elderly people are not getting priority in the Government hospital irrespective of their capacity to pay.”

4.  The Judgment of 2018 – Directions Alone Will Not Do – Need to Continuously Monitor

This order given by the Supreme Court comes in the background of the judgment delivered on the right Petition (WP) (Civil) Nos. 193/2016 on 13th December 2018  in which the Supreme Courtagreed to the dire situation of the elderly across the country and agreed that – “…this Public Interest Petition should not and cannot be taken as an adversarial litigation”.

5. Keeping this in perspective the SC in its judgment gave some directions and added that “…a set of directions issued by this Court will not fulfill the constitutional mandate or the mandate of the “ The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents And Senior Citizen’s Act ”

6. Thus the Supreme Courtin the judgment was of the view that – “….There is a need to continuously monitor the progress in the implementation of the constitutional mandate to make available to the elderly the right to live with dignity and to provide them with reasonable accommodation, medical facilities and geriatric care. While this may take some time, the only available solution is a continuing mandamus which is a well-recognized practice and procedure adopted by this Court in several cases to ensure that the rights of the people are respected, recognized and enforced and that social justice as postulated by the Preamble in the Constitution is given meaning and teeth”.

7. Thus the order of 4th Aug’20 in response to the application by petitioner.

THE ORDER –A Call to Accountability of the Governments to its Senior Citizens in COVID times

The 4th Aug’20 order should be seen in line with Supreme Court’s  judgement of Dec’2018 where it put the case in ‘…continuing mandamus…”i.e.“….to continuously monitor the progress in the implementation of the constitutional mandate to make available to the elderly the right to live with dignity and to provide them with reasonable accommodation, medical facilities and geriatric care.”

8. Thus the Supreme Court’s orderdirected the Union of India (UoI) and States in a way to be accountable to its poor and vulnerable senior citizens stating that “….all old age people who are eligible for pension should be regularly paid pension and those identified older people should be provided necessary medicines, masks, sanitizers and other essential goods by respective States. Further, as and when any individual request is made, the same shall be attended to by the Administration with all promptness.  The care givers of those old age homes should be provided personal protection and appropriate sanitization should also be undertaken in the old age homes.  Let all the States may file their reply affidavit to the averments made in the application within four weeks

9. THE SIGNIFICANCE – Hope for Senior Citizens in COVID times

This order will force the Union and State Governments in coming days to submit publicly for the first time before the Supreme Court and people of India particularly the poor and vulnerable senior citizens what they have done for them since the lockdowns for COVID-19 that began since March’2020 in particular.  This perhaps is the only authentic way to get correct data from the ‘horse’s mouth’ about its actions, decisions, policies and schemes it launched for senior citizens in the context of COVID-19 and demand some measure of accountability towards the senior citizens, because the news reporting in matters of senior citizens specifically is not giving a clear picture and the reports senior citizens organizations and others are getting from its ground are not very encouraging.

Significance of Order

Thus the SC’s intervention through this order is of great ‘significance’ for the ongoing struggle by the senior citizens for their rights and entitlements as given to them under the Constitution i.e. Article 21, 42 and legislations passed in the parliament like MWPS Act 2007 towards which all governments are committed.  So it would notperhaps be a ‘crime’ if seniors citizens of this great and ancient country which in its traditions and religions venerates and respects elders , if  those elders who have given their ‘golden years of their youth’ to ‘developing this great country’ ask some little ‘protections’ and a ‘dignifiedlife’ in their ‘twilight years’  from society and state.

 

REFERENCES

  1. Page 3, Supreme Court Order dated 04-08-2020 on Writ Petition(s) (Civil) No(s). 193/2016.
  2. Page 4, Supreme Court Order dated 04-08-2020 on Writ Petition(s) (Civil) No(s). 193/2016.
  3. Page 4, Supreme Court Order dated 04-08-2020 on Writ Petition(s) (Civil) No(s). 193/2016.
  4. Page 5, Supreme Court Order dated 04-08-2020 on Writ Petition(s) (Civil) No(s). 193/2016.
  5. Page 23, Supreme Court JUDGEMENT on W. P. [Civil] No. 193 of 2016 dated 13th
  6. Page 24, Supreme Court JUDGEMENT on W.P [Civil] No. 193 of 2016 dated 13th December 2018.
  7. Page 24, Supreme Court JUDGEMENT on W.P [Civil] No. 193 of 2016 dated 13th Dec’ 2018.
  8. Page 24, Supreme Court JUDGEMENT on W.P [Civil] No. 193 of 2016 dated 13th December 2018.
  9. Page 4, Supreme Court Order dated 04-08-2020 on Writ Petition(s) (Civil) No(s). 193/2016

This article has been written by Dr. Bobby Poulose

Dr. Bobby Poulose

 

Deputy Director – Advocacy. HelpAge India

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